The dwindling number of school children enrolling in remote areas of Lapland is causing concern for Finnish authorities.
Estimates have suggested that numbers may fall by up to one-third over the next ten years, with Rovaniemi and Kemi-Tornio currently the only districts to see any signs of enrolment growth.
Finnish education officials have predicted that Lapland’s urban areas will see a three percent growth in registrations for boys aged 7-15 over the next decade. Elsewhere in Lapland, however, the number of elementary enrolments is expected to fall sharply, reports YLE.
The largest drop is forecast for the Tornio River Valley, where numbers are set to decline by nearly half. In Lapland’s north and east, the fall is forecast at around 30 percent. More schools are also likely to close.
The most recent school closures are said to have resulted in greater demand for travel services, with more than a quarter of parents forced to drop off and pick up their children by car.
The predicted closures could result in even longer trips for many; although 111 children enrolled in elementary schools in Lapland already face daily journeys of more than 50km each way. In most cases, the time spent on travel exceeds agreed ceilings. The whole of Finnish Lapland currently contains a mere 125 elementary schools.